January 15, 2004
IRAN'S POLITICAL CRISIS IS 'POTENTIALLY
** Clerics' ban on
parliamentary nominees has put Iran into a "full-blown" political
** The outcome of the
struggle between hardliners and reformists remains unclear.
** Khatami must act to
counter the mullahs, but his position is "delicate."
'Showdown' between clerics and reformists is 'very serious'-- Commentators worldwide viewed the
disqualification of reformist parliamentary candidates by Iran's hardline
Guardian Council as amounting to a "coup d'etat by the ultraconservatives"
and judged that it had plunged Iran into a "deep political
crisis." The move "could undo
years of reform efforts" and provoke "confrontation and chaos." Iran is "on the verge of a nervous,
political and structural breakdown," said Italy's center-right Il
Giornale. Belgium's independent De
Morgen termed the Guardian Council's move "a slap in the face" of
President Khatami, who is "trying to reform the country step-by-step and
draw it out of its international isolation." A Canadian writer concluded that Iran's
"theocrats are shredding the thin veneer of democracy behind which they
Conservatives 'have broken their pledge' on democracy-- Reformist papers in Iran stated that the
disqualification of reformist candidates, who "have been regarded as the
backbone of the Islamic Revolution," was a "momentous event"
that will "more or less determine the fate of the country." Tehran's reformist Yas-e Now, noting
that some pro-reform deputies had previously "justified...forbearance, and
retreat vis-à-vis the authoritarians" to preserve "reforms in
general," argued that the "pivotal" aspect of reforms--free
elections--are "on the verge of annihilation"; reformists needed to
show "no weakness" in their protests.
Conservative daily Resalat maintained that reformers were
"misinterpreting" the dictums of Ayatollah Khomeini, who "never
said" that a "majority of votes" is a measure of the system's
Mullahs may have overplayed their hand-- Many analysts contended the mullahs "may
have miscalculated" and it is "by no means certain" which side
will prevail. Germany's center-right Die
Welt noted that nationwide protests against the Council had reached into
government ministries, "and this can hardly be ignored." Though a Russian paper opined that the
reformers "have missed their historic chance," other observers held
that the hardliners are also "faced with difficult decisions." Giving in to protests would breach "the dam
behind which" they have been hiding from reform, but if they remain
"adamant, they will be isolated even more." Disillusionment with Khatami's failure to
"deliver" reform may have weakened his ability to counter the
mullahs. The UAE's English-language Gulf
News commented that "Khatami has to take the opportunity presented"
by the clerics' action, but he will have to strike "a delicate
balance," avoiding fomenting tension but making it clear that he
"will not accept the ruling."
Irrespective of the eventual outcome, a Brazilian outlet pointed out,
the result of the struggle will affect "the fragile balance of power in
the Middle East."
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 27 reports from 17 countries, January 6-15, 2004. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Khatami Must
The conservative Daily Telegraph had this to say (Internet
version, 1/15): "The current trial
of strength in Iran is generally seen as a last-ditch attempt by conservative
clerics to save their political skin. In
fact, it could be the reformers, led by President Mohammad Khatami and his
parliamentary allies, who go under. Mr.
Khatami swept all before him in the polls between 1997 and 2001, when he was
elected for a second term as head of state.
But the hopes aroused by these successes have been dashed and voters
have sunk into sullen apathy.... In the
present crisis, most of the cabinet, reformist MPs and provincial governors are
making a stand against the banning by the conservative Council of Guardians of
nearly half the 8,200 candidates for next month's parliamentary poll. But there is little sign of wider
support.... Armed with the
constitutional means and the naked force to thwart the reformers, the
conservative clerics appear to hold the trump cards. In the middle, trying to persuade the Council
of Guardians to reconsider its decision and the MPs (including his brother) to
end their sit-in, stands Mr. Khatami.
Himself part of the clerical establishment, he has tried to effect
change through constitutional means. The
problem is that, under the principle of velayat-e faquih, or guardianship of
the Islamic jurist, imposed on the country in 1983, ultimate power rests with
the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and unelected bodies such as the
Council of Guardians. Unwilling to
challenge the source of their authority, Mr. Khatami has simply looked
ineffective. There will be little
comfort for Iran if he and his reformist allies go under. Their failure will leave, on one side, a
reinvigorated clerical leadership and, on the other, an electorate that feels
unrepresented. The middle way of reform
championed by Mr. Khatami will give way to outright opposition to the
revolutionary settlement imposed by Ayatollah Khomeini. That confrontation could prove really
"Iran's Overmighty Mullahs"
The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (1/12): "Iran's hardline clerical leadership has
debarred some 80 reformist members of the Majlis.... It seems that the clergy hope to capitalize
on disillusionment with the failures of the reformists. If so, they may have miscalculated.... With American forces just over the border in
Iraq and Afghanistan, regime change in Iran is no longer inconceivable. While open support for the opposition would
now be counterproductive, if the Iranian people were to rise against their
overmighty mullahs, the West would surely show solidarity with them."
GERMANY: "On A
Collision Course In Tehran"
Rudolph Chimelli argued in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (1/14): "It could be that
Iran's conservative forces have asked too much this time. The attempt of the orthodox clerics to
disqualify deputies to get the majority in the vote is threatening to turn into
a real state crisis. And it is by no
means certain who will come out as the winner.... More than once a collision has been averted
before, but now a compromise is nowhere in sight, since the reformers cannot
tolerate the bureaucratic tricks with which the spiritual Constitutional Court
wants to push them out of parliament....
The conservatives are faced with difficult decisions, too. If they give in, the dam behind which they
hid from the reform wishes of the Iranians and from international pressure will
then break. If they remain adamant, they
will be isolated even more. Their
concessions in the nuclear dispute is an indication that they do not want
this. At that time realism won the upper
hand. It may be a coincidence that
Javier Solana was in town to remind them that cooperation with Europe without free
elections is impossible."
"They Want To Have A Choice"
Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin editorialized
(1/14): "As long as Iran's
constitution allows these democratic and theocratic double structures, the
power struggle cannot be resolved and will continue to paralyze Iran's internal
development. Developments since 1997
have shown that the reformers are now at a crossroads. They will lose all their influence if they do
not start to fight for a review of the constitution. This effort will succeed only if the people
join them. It is true that many Iranians
are disappointed at the lack of courage among their elected
representatives. But they could let
themselves be convinced that this is the only chance for a free life."
"Plain English For Tehran"
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg
argued (1/14): "When Iran's
Guardian Council disqualifies candidates for the parliamentary elections and
when government members threaten to resign, then much more is involved than a
power conflict in the country. It will
be decisive for the ability of the entire region to modernize itself whether
the Islamic Republic of Iran succeeds in reforming itself. This is why clear words are now
necessary.... Iran's hardliners are
pinning their hopes on winning the elections because the voter turnout is
likely to be small since the liberal forces will be excluded from the
elections. They also assume that the
international community will hardly protest and will even enter into talks with
a conservative government. This is why
now, in this decisive stage before the elections, clear words are
necessary. When the issue was Iran's
nuclear program, Europe achieved a success with a mixture of a carrot-and-stick
policy. Similar political and economic
pressure is now urgently necessary, too."
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (1/13): "It is not
yet possible to say where the conflict between the reformers...and their
opponents is heading. For years the
discontent in Iran towards the religiously ordered stagnation and lack of
political freedom has been growing. The
hopes the Iranians had pinned on their new president have not come true. The fact that his brother, the parliamentary
vice president, is to be excluded from the polls is a brazen, probably desperate
challenge to President Khatami himself.
The protests against it are not the only things showing how precarious
the situation is."
Dietrich Alexander noted in an editorial in right-of-center Die
Welt of Berlin (1/13): "The events
in Iran cannot be exceeded in their cynicism and absurdity. Even without global outrage, without
diplomatic lessons from Javier Solana, and without protests and sit-ins the
Iranian Guardian Council will have realized that it has gone too far this time.... Is the move based on pre-election campaign
rituals? Yes, it is, and this is not
new, but something else is: the
subordinate institutions do not support the Council's course any longer. The Interior Ministry has called the decrees
illegal and refuses to implement them, and all provincial governors threatened
to resign if the Council does not withdraw its decision. The national protest against the Mullahs has
now reached the administrative level, and this can hardly be ignored.... If the governors refuse to obey orders from
Tehran, the regime will be in trouble.
This is the stuff revolutions are made of."
Right-of-center Volksstimme of Magdeburg (1/13) noted: "What is the state of democracy in
Iran? If we take the decision of the
conservative religious leaders to exclude excessively reform-friendly politicians
from the elections, then it is bad. But
if massive protests force the Guardian Council to act in a more subdued manner
only a few hours later, then this is the first sign of a new beginning taking
place in the country. The times when the
ayatollahs in Tehran kept a parliament that approved all their decisions seem
to be over. But are they over for
good? The Islamic religious leaders
continue to have the say in Iran, but they have no longer the absolute
rule. The crack between religious dogma
and the longing for freedom is widening.
The parliamentary elections in February will show what the people really
think if they are free and fair. The
violent eruption of internal conflicts cannot be ruled out."
Threatens Mass Resignations"
Elo Foti observed in pro-government, leading center-right Il
Giornale (1/14): "It's on the
verge of a nervous, political and structural breakdown. This is the state in which Iran woke
up...after the decision made on Monday by the Council of the Guardians of the
Revolution to whip the front of reformers by invalidating the candidature of 80
delegates and 3,200 ordinary citizens for [February's] political
elections.... The Council of Guardians
is...making life impossible for 67 million Iranians: they have banned laws which aim to improve
women's conditions, the liberalization of the press, and they have opposed
foreign investments and a ban of the practice of torturing prisoners. Khatami is in a difficult situation. An idol for young people and for all those
who are hoping for a change, he has recently been mocked in a university
demonstration in Tehran for not having the courage to seek a head-on clash with
the big priests of the conservative wing.
Will he resign?"
"Day Of Reckoning For Iran's Two Souls"
Alberto Negri commented in leading business daily Il Sole-24
Ore (1/14): "The reformist
President Khatami is threatening to leave if the decision made by the Council
of the Guardians of the Revolution, the Pasdaran, to invalidate the majority of
candidatures of the political reformists for the upcoming February 20 general
elections is not revoked. The Council of
the Pasdaran, a non-elective body dominated by conservatives, is attempting to
carry out a 'white coup,' which resembles the one carried out by the generals
of Ankara in 1998 against the Turkish fundamentalists and which led to the
departure of the Islamists from the government.... In a certain sense, the Pasdran's decision is
a brutal opinion survey to measure the reactions of the people and the support
enjoyed by the reformists."
Reformers Lose Chance"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant
(1/13): "The 'red light' for
reform-minded liberals is more evidence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards'
strength and enormous administrative resources.
It is an attempt to draw the line at seeing the 'democratic experiment'
through after it started in 1996, when Mohammad Khatami surprised many by
becoming president. Liberals have lost
credibility. Besides, the massive
pressure the United States is putting on Iran to shake the regime and help the
'democratic revolution' seems to be counterproductive. Conservatives, clamoring about the fatherland
in jeopardy, are scoring points, while the reformers, as they call for a
dialogue with Washington, look like hirelings in the service of foreign powers
or the United States' Fifth Column.
Reformers must have missed their historic chance in Iran. It happens in countries in transition. As the Iran elections near, the EU will
probably be the only ones to grieve at their being unfair. Iranians won't feel that way. Nor will George Bush, who lists Iran as part
of the global axis of evil, convinced that the leopard can't change his
Foreign editor Frank Schloemer commented in independent De
Morgen (1/14): “Barely one
month before the parliamentary elections in Iran the country has wound up in a
serious political crisis.... The
conservative religious leaders have barred more than 2,000 reputedly reformist
candidates from the February 20 elections.
That is nothing less that a disguised coup by the fundamentalist
ayatollahs and a slap in the face of President Mohammed Khatami who is trying
to reform the country step-by-step and draw it out of its international
isolation. In the Iranian parliament,
the reformers have a majority, much to the dissatisfaction of the religious
leaders--Ali Khameini in the first place.
The barring of liberal candidates is nothing else than a clear warning
that may drag Iran into a deep political crisis and which may divide the country
into two hostile camps--even more than is the case today. There is a serious chance that the may
country become unstable--which may have an impact on (the situation in) the
Middle East.... All this increases the
chance of confrontation and chaos in a country that only recently began to get
attention on the international political scene.
Whether and how Iran enters into relations with the West is largely
dependent on the outcome of the elections.
A victory of the reformers will make better relations more likely--and
that is why those elections are also important for us.”
In the independent daily, Cotidianul, foreign policy
analyst C.S.D. opined (1/13): “Iran is
confronted these days with a huge political crisis, after the Guardian Council,
the supreme religious body that controls the parliament, fully rejected the
candidacies of hundreds of reformists, just a month ahead of parliamentary
elections. The decision of the conservative
religious officials, who exert strict control over Iranian political life, has
strongly displeased the reformist movement, and created tensions among the
Centrist La Vanguardia remarked (1/15): "For years Iran has lived with a certain
political schizophrenia.... That the
electorate...supports the proposals of change should contribute to greater
instability, in that these are thwarted by the clergy. However, except for sporadic sparks of
protests, Iranian society is resigned to its fate, perhaps because the elements
of control on the population established by the Khomeini revolution are still
very powerful.... The war and the fact
that Iran was included by Bush in the 'axis of evil' have had an undeniable
impact on the ayatollah's regime, both in its presumed support for terrorist
movements and its recent policy of cooperation with the UN on nuclear
"Challenge In Iran"
Left-of-center El País remarked (1/13): "The decision by the Council of
Guardians to reject hundreds of reformist candidates constitutes a coup d'etat
covered up by the ultraconservatives of the fundamentalist regime.... Ali Khamenei knows that the priority for
Europe and the U.S. is to get Iran to fully commit itself with the nuclear
non-proliferation and to ensure the stabilization of an Iraq with a Shiite
majority. But what is really at stake is
the possibility of turning into the first post-Islamic and democratic
TURKEY: "Our Foreign
Yilmaz Oztuna noted in the conservative-mass appeal Turkiye
(1/13): “Turkey’s relations with Syria
and Iran have significantly improved recently.
However, the spring-like atmosphere will not make Washington give up its
plans concerning Syria and Iran. The
project is part of a ‘Pax Americana’ from which the U.S. is unlikely to turn
back. Turkey should make its policy
based on this fact.”
UAE: "Khatami Has To
Do A Tightrope Walk"
The English-language Gulf News said (Internet version,
1/13): "The conservatives in Iran
have given President Mohammed Khatami a chance to revive his faltering
political fortunes by disqualifying thousands of reformist candidates.... Khatami has won two elections on a reform platform
but has failed to deliver much to his constituency as the hardline religious
establishment has made sure his initiatives were unable to get going. However, Khatami has to take the opportunity
presented by the Council of Guardians apparently over-reaching itself with this
extraordinary ban. Resistance to the
move is building up.... The Interior
Ministry, which runs the elections, has declared the move illegal. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who
has the last word on all constitutional matters, hinted that a compromise might
be possible, saying he might intervene if the conservatives and reformists
reach an impasse. However, Khatami will
have to act to resist this move, and he will have to be seen by his supporters
to be doing something. He will have to
follow a delicate balance, avoiding fomenting tension but at the same time
making it clear that he will not accept the ruling and going to substantial
lengths to get it reversed. His
supporters have accepted that the hardliners have well entrenched positions and
are hard to overcome but they will not be ready to let this blatant challenge
go by without some action.... If he
moves carefully but effectively, Khatami could come out of this challenge well
placed to win the February election, and to use his victory to put the
conservatives on the retreat afterwards."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
Zhang Shuang commented on the official Communist Party
international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao)
(1/14): “Iran’s recent performance on
the international stage has been noteworthy.
On the one hand, it signed the ‘nuclear non-proliferation treaty,’ and,
showing an unprecedented openness, accepted Western countries’ assistance for
the Bam earthquake; but on the other hand, it rebuffed the U.S. government's
request for dialogue. It maintains a
conservative attitude in admitting international nuclear inspectors. This proves that the domestic battle between
conservatives and reformists in Iran has reached a fever pitch. How Iran’s political crisis will end and how
Iran will develop in the future to a great extent depend on the conservatives’
attitudes.... Public opinion holds that
if the conservatives properly evaluate the situation and take the opportunity...to
revoke the prohibitions on the reformist candidates, this would no doubt be a
wise way to reconcile the current political crisis and win voters for
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
The nationalist Hindustan Times commented (1/13): "Iran's reform movement has run into
rough weather again. A hard-line Islamic
religious authority under supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khameini to vet the
candidates list for next month's general elections has disqualified half of the
8,200 names in it, including several sitting members of the 290-seat
Parliament. Many of those 'rejected' are
outspoken critics of Iran's strict Islamic religious political system.... What is odd, however, is that the council has
now so brazenly taken what's probably the most drastic action against reformers
in Iran's parliamentary history. An
immediate casualty of this would be public interest in the polls--an excellent
yardstick of what the reform movement has, or hasn't, done in Iran.... It's sad that despite having a constitution,
political parties and local and parliamentary elections, democracy is yet to be
established in Iran. At a time when the
country's struggling to emerge from isolation on the world stage, such political
experimentation can be debilitating."
"Good Effect Of Earthquake?"
Calcutta's independent Bengali Anandabazar Patrika observed
(1/12): "That Iran is now inviting
U.S. companies to invest in a big way in its vast oilfields by waiving trade
sanctions against America must have been prompted by refrains of the recent
Iraq experience. Would the U.S. Goddess
of wealth not realize at this moment more easily the worth of getting this huge
oil reserve opened up even without any armed conflict? Going by the Iranian government thinking, the
U.S.'s distancing with Egypt this time around and consequently, Iran-Egypt
closeness might also help dawning proper realization on the U.S. Iran is hinting at conditional negotiation
possibly by comprehending that a reduction in hostility and establishment of a
normal relationship in the Middle East is extremely important to the U.S. Iran, under the Islamist authority can never,
unlike Libya, be graduated from America's foe to friend even with a series of
talks. Still it would be no mean an
achievement if at least half of its 'evilness' gets wiped out in the eyes of
the Bush administration."
IRAN: "A Broken
Soheil Mohajer commented in pro-Khatami
English-language Tehran daily Iran Daily (Internet version, 1/14): "By disqualifying a large number of
reformist nominees, who are the people's elected representatives in the
parliament, the conservative supervisory boards have essentially rejected the
performance and credibility of reformers. This is a clear warning that the Seventh
Majlis elections are different from all other parliamentary races held in the
post-Islamic Revolution era. This
momentous event will more or less determine the fate of the country.... That the reformers are currently in the
spotlight is neither destiny nor the stratagem of the rivals. Conservatives and
reformers had agreed that the watchdog Guardians Council would not be too
strict with regard to the screening procedure for electoral nominees to promote
the active participation of political parties in the vital event.... The disqualification of reformist nominees,
who have been regarded as the backbone of the Islamic Revolution, indicates
that the conservatives have obviously broken their pledge. The reformers, who are currently viewed as
outsiders, always worked for the success of the Islamic system and never
compromised over the system's ideals.
The reformers are still trusted by the public.... Everybody is shocked these days, including
the 'silent candidates' who appeared on the electoral scene to pump new blood
into the Islamic system."
"The Requirements Of Resistance"
Davud Mohammadi wrote in Tehran's reformist Yas-e
Now (Internet version, 1/12):
""Until now, some of the reformists have justified condescension,
forbearance, and retreat vis-à-vis the authoritarians based on the argument of
'the need to grant concessions in order to preserve the reforms in
general.' However, the integrity of the
reforms and its pivotal point--that is, free elections--are on the verge of
annihilation now. Therefore, at this
juncture no weakness in resistance by any of the reformists is acceptable. Actually, the stances institutions and
political activists take in stabilizing free elections will constitute the
point that differentiates between true and fake reformists. The reformists should refrain seriously from
any kind of backstage lobbying for ending their sit-in without acquiring the
valuable achievement. They should make
the principle of defending the freedom of elections and refraining from wasting
the legitimate rights of all the suitable candidates the 'red line' and the
pivot of compromising talks with the conservatives.... The reformists have always sought their sole
support among public opinion.... Now
that the reform process has reached the point of 'being obliterated or staying
on' the reformists should, as in the past, place the peaceful and lawful policy
that is based on the support of the majority of the citizens on their agenda
and resort to all legitimate potential and actual possibilities at their
disposal in order to attract the attention of public opinion at home and
"Factional Interpretations Of Imam's
Mehdi Aminian remarked in conservative Tehran
daily Resalat (Internet version,
1/6): "So far, one topic that the
reformists have constantly used to back their plans and justify their failure
to solve the people's dilemmas is the topic of legitimacy and its real meaning. They claim that in today's society, some
believe that legitimacy, which comes from the majority of votes, means
acceptance, and others believe that it comes from the will of God.... Referring to the ever enlightening 'the
measure is the people's vote' [quotation from Imam Khomeini], they claim that
in the tradition of...[Khomeini] and also in political and social sciences, the
people's votes determines the lawfulness of a political system and its
institutions.... However, 'the
measure is the people's votes' does not necessarily mean that a system's
legitimacy is derived from a nation's votes, because this is a general
sentence, and Imam Khomeini never said 'the measure of a system's legitimacy is
the people's votes.'"
"The Mullahs Run Scared"
The leading Globe and Mail commented (Internet version,
1/14): "The long-running feud
between Iran's hardline clerics and moderate parliament is heading toward a
showdown that could undo years of reform efforts. The fuse was lit Sunday when the powerful,
unelected Guardian Council disqualified thousands of candidates from running in
next month's parliamentary elections...plunging the country into a full-blown
political crisis at a time when it is still reeling from the devastating
effects of the recent earthquake.... The
reason for their dramatic action this time was obvious. The clerics...fear that the elections will
return an overwhelming majority who support efforts to steer the country toward
economic and social liberalization. This
is anathema to the hard-liners, who have consistently blocked major reforms
since the moderates won control of parliament for the first time in 2000. So they simply decided to rig the election
and take their chances with the consequences.
For now, Mr. Khatami is applying pressure publicly while working for a
solution behind the scenes. This
includes a direct appeal to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme
religious leader. He has so far declined
to exercise his power to overturn the council's edict, but may yet to do so if
the crisis deepens. Mr. Khatami, a
mullah himself, believes the theocratic system can be modernized without
tearing it apart. Neither the president
nor the self-appointed religious establishment relish the prospect of this
confrontation escalating out of control.
The electoral successes of Mr. Khatami and his reformist allies in
recent years persuaded many younger Iranians that the iron grip of the mullahs
would soon give way to the democratic aspirations of the people. But they have grown increasingly frustrated
with the slow pace of change. Voter
turnout in recent elections has fallen precipitously, and the intransigence of
the hardliners will only make it tougher for those advocating peaceful
transformation to get their voices heard."
"Iran's Pretend Democracy"
The conservative National Post argued (Internet version,
1/14): "Like many observers, we
hoped that Iran's somewhat appreciative reaction to the outpouring of
humanitarian assistance from the world community following last month's deadly
earthquake might signal a move toward more moderate policies in Tehran. But that seems to have been naive.... The country's theocrats are shredding the
thin veneer of democracy behind which they operate.... President Mohammad Khatami, whose own mildly
reformist agenda has been largely thwarted by the Guardian Council and its
allies...has spoken out against the decision [to bar some from parliamentary
elections] but is urging protestors to stay within the law. Some media outlets have portrayed the sit-in
[by banned parliamentarians] as a major showdown between the forces of
democracy and repression. But that is
overblown. First of all...the difference
between Iran's 'reformers' and 'hardliners' is slight: both generally support a theocratic vision
for Iran. Secondly, given the failure of
President Khatami to deliver any real change in the last seven years, most
voters are cynical about this week's developments. Starved as they are for political freedom,
there so far seems to be relatively little public support for the sit-in. The Guardian Council's move casts doubt on
the notion that true progress can emerge under the country's current
institutional arrangement. It once
seemed possible that Tehran's theocrats would come to understand that Iranians--students
in particular--no longer support the radical Islamist agenda that brought
Ayatollah Khomeini to power in 1979, and would grudgingly accede to democratic
rule. But it now seems more probable
that if Iran is to emerge as a free society, it will first have to undergo a
true revolution, peaceful or otherwise."
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (1/14): "The political crisis in Iran is very
serious and its outcome is uncertain.
The dispute between conservatives and reformers may result in a victory of
the liberals or in a wave of repression led by the clergy, or even in
compromise, which may be the most likely scenario.... Iran's future is fundamental to the fragile
balance of power in the Middle East. A
possible worsening of the situation may have repercussions on the Shiite
population in Iraq. And one should
always remember that George W. Bush has already included Tehran in the famous
'axis of evil'."